Friday, January 30, 2009

Good News From Washington!

I like good news on a Friday.

Robert Lynch, president and chief exec of Americans for the Art stated,“We hope Congress can come to a sensible consensus as the bill is prepared for its final vote,” “The arts are essential to the health and vitality of our communities, and it is fiscally sound policy to invest in our nation’s arts infrastructure.”

I hate to write about the "E" word (economy), mostly because this blog is reflective of how the Biggs feels about art: it's for everyone, whichever way you like it, and it's fun (ie, free museum days, white paper headdresses and buying cookies to help girl scout troops). But I'll always welcome encouragement from key people in our industry. Budget planning for FY09-10 is creeping up on my calendar, and a little rah rah is needed.

So anyways, there was a great article in the Wall Street Journal on Michael Conforti, the president of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD). It was actually written by one of my favorite art bloggers, Lee Rosenbaum of CultureGrrl. Lee breezed through some of the battles art museums in the U.S. are up against, some of them that would make a museum staff member want to crawl under an antique chair and say "a donor can wake me up when the recession's over." LA, Detroit and New York museums are reducing programs, exhibitions and staffing. The Getty is on a job freeze. Even the LA Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the National Academy Museum in New York were on the verge of going bust until getting bailed. Museums are even breaking the "cardinal rule" (as put by lee), and selling artwork for cash. Artwork has only been sold for buying other art in the past.
But Mr. Conforti puts us at ease by saying that this financially difficult period is, "a great time for art museums." They are, he said, "bellwethers for people at moments like this. We saw this happen after 9/11. If we are doing our jobs well, we're the places that people can turn to in times of instability. The reality is that the Metropolitan Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Phoenix Art Museum are not going away."

I think he's right, we're not going anywhere. If anything we'll prove to be what we are here for more than ever before, a community resource.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chanel A'head' of Fashion with Origami

I'd give any to escape the slush that is the state of Delaware today. January is almost over but we've still got February to go (even with only 28 days). Where would I go to escape this dreariness you ask? To Paris of course, for the haute couture Fall 2009 fashion shows with a seat next to Anna Wintour.
But I'll put my vacay dreams on the shelf and stay glued to the blogs and runway reports. Now before you think I'm about to give you the top ten trends for next fall, hold your horses...this is an art blog, all must be relative. While I consider fashion art, I think a majority of it isn't. But what I just witnessed in photos of Karl Lagerfield's Chanel Fall 2009 show is a perfect example of what makes so many rush to sit in a heated tent in the middle of paris to watch models strut down a catwalk in clothing the same way art lovers travel far and wide to see beautiful works of art.

Karl Lagerfeld has a new muse: 40-year-old Japanese hairstylist, Katsuya Kamo. Kamo was responsible for the ornate headdresses on the model's pretty heads at this season's Chanel Couture show. With three weeks, seven helpers and two packets of 11X17 white paper, Kano created these origami pieces. So where's the motive for using such a simple material in a couture show? I think Karl explained himself clearly while commenting on the recession in France. “The whole crisis is like a big spring housecleaning -- both moral and physical,” the designer said, adding, “Bling is over. Red carpet covered with rhinestones is out. I call it ‘the new modesty’.”
He certainly meant it when he said new modesty. From the degrading of the venue to the simple white designs, you could see the restraint on Karl's part. I hate to be cliche, but I must say these headdresses are "a work of art." I think the word for it that's becoming popular is "upcycling": meaning to take recyclable items and create something even more valuable than what the material was before. They're over the top, but are they really if they're made out of paper? All I'm thinking is if Karl wouldn't mind sending me one to wear at Artful Dining next Friday....I have nothing to wear.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I love you more than an US Weekly Magazine on Dewey Beach in June.

It's only January 26th, and my intern (also known as my sister) is itching to hang hearts in my office window. However I just don't feel ready to break out the Hershey kisses and Valentine's Day cards until Feb. 1st. (I did buy my conversational hearts already though!)

For those of you that have already mapped out your romantic activities for Feb 14th, here's a treat. The ladies from Paperwhite Studio have launched a project titled I Love You More than Blank. Laureen and Yuliya want to break away from the cliche Valentine sayings (Be Mine is so last year), and start a collection of real things people use to measure their love. In other words, what would you put second for love. As you can see by my title, it's an US Weekly Magazine on a beautiful June day in Dewey Beach. You can't beat the gossip, the waves or the tan you'll soon have. But in the name of love, Dewey would have to wait. So what would you give up for love? They're dying to know so email them at and your declaration might be posted the following day.

Enjoy these warm fuzzies. I sure have. Here are some of my favorites.

I love you more than mid century furniture.

I love you more than I thought I loved the drummer.

I love you more than I love my pillow (just don't drool on it.)

I love you more than putting baby in a corner.

Friday, January 23, 2009

In The News: Please Touch Museum Makes Big Acquisition

We all remember the 1988 movie Big. I think that is when Tom Hanks won over most of our hearts in the 80s (until he did Castaway and The Terminal, just kidding!) If you've seen Big, you'll never forget the scene when Hanks, a 12-year-old magically transformed into an adult, and Robert Loggia, his boss at a toy company, jump on the giant piano and play tunes including "Chopsticks" in the toy store. Even today, if i catch Big playing on a Sunday afternoon on TBS, I'm hoping I catch that scene of Hanks almost doing a split.

Although Hanks is the star of the movie, the 16-foot piano takes the Chopsticks scene. After the movie wrapped filming, the "walking piano" (made by Remo Saraceni in Philadelphia was purchased by a couple in suburban Merion. Either the couple are in need of some serious room in their home or are just feeling some leftover Christmas spirit, because they have just given the walking piano to the Philadelphia Please Touch Museum. Please Touch is obviously thrilled.... Museum President Nancy Kolb states, "I am thrilled to add this icon of the big screen to our collection. The movie as a whole and the piano scene in particular captures the innocence and enthusiasm of childhood. Much like a children’s museum, it is about the joys of childhood and how, as we grow older, we play less but we never completely lose that desire to be a kid again.”

The piano will be on display starting in February. There's no word yet as to if we'll be able to jump up on and step out a tune. But it is the Please Touch Museum, so keep your toes crosses. In the meantime, enjoy the scene below, it's Friday.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Remembering: Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)

If you could rewrite the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses" for artists in Delaware and Pennsylvania, it is likely you would say, "Keeping up with the Wyeths." Often considered America's most famous artists, Andrew Wyeth, died in his sleep at his home in Chadds Ford last Friday, January 16th. He died after a brief illness at the age of 91, and was surrounded by his family.

There's much to say about Andrew Wyeth, the son of internationally renowned painter and illustrator N.C. Wyeth. I could sit and tell you of all the record he broke at his exhibitions ( Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006 drew 177,000 visitors in 15 1/2 weeks, the highest-ever attendance at the museum for a living artist), the number of Museum which hold his works (The Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the National Gallery of Art), and his awards (He received the COngressional Gold Medal in 1990. Most recently, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2007.), but that wouldn't even begin to detail the degree to what Andrew and his works mean to his followers.

Andrew broke boundaries. There is no denying his talent, but his paintings were haunting, which made them all the more intriguing. Whether is was "Christina's World" or the "The Witching Hour", you could feel the moment and are often left wondering, "what is really happening here?" In 1950 at a time when abstraction was the theme, he went the other direction. A closet-showman, he never dabbled in the celebrity-ness of the artworld in New York.

With all of the articles and all of the great commentary, I'm almost compelled to create my own "due" to Andrew Wyeth. But so many others, including himself, have described him and his work to a T.

I read an interesting quote of Wyeth's this morning in an article about his work and winter.

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.”

So many of his works reflect this preference, so it is almost comforting to know that he passed on one of the coldest days of the year thus far.
As you can tell below, he's inspired us and has left us with works to treasure forever, and he wasn't ever too far away.

"I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious."- Andrew Wyeth

“He was a painter of emotions -- to hilt,” said Richard Meryman, author of “Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life.”

"I think one's art goes as far and deep as one's love goes." - Andrew Wyeth

"What you have to do is break all the rules." - Andrew Wyeth

"For the people he paints wear their noses in the usual place, and the weathered barns and bare-limbed trees in his starkly simple landscapes are more real than reality."- Reporter

Friday, January 16, 2009

Non-Profit (or Doing) of the Week: Satisfy your Sweet Tooth and a Troop

I'm a Thin Mint kind of gal. Always have. A veteran Girl Scout myself (Brownie and Junior level), after tallying up all of my cookie sales, I always asked Mom to order 3 extra boxes of Thin Mints to freeze. My brother Will always went for the Peanut Butter Do-Si-Dos, while my sister, the sweet freak that she is, went for anything she could get her hands on.

Everyone has a favorite Girl Scout cookie and memory, whether it be selling or buying them. So if you've been craving a Trefoil or a Tagalong, you're in luck! Girl Scout cookie sales have just begun throughout the country, and there are bright young scouts looking for your order for the next 3 months.

Not only are they delicious, but your sweet tooth is helping your local Girl Scout Council. About 70% of the cookie sales goes directly to the Council, our being the Chesapeake Bay Council. I must admit, the number of choices have increased since I was going door to door. This year they've even introduced a new flavor Dulce de Leche, featuring gooey caramel drizzled over a crunchy, caramel-filled cookie. Sounds delicious! Even if you're on a diet for your new year's resolution, the scouts are offering Sugar Free Chocolate Chip!

Working in a small office and living in a small neighborhood, there's a chance I may not cross path's with a Girl Scout in the next few months. No need to worry, you can visit the Girl Scout Cookies web-site to find your local Council and a rep will follow up with you or just call 1-800-YUM-YUM-2. In addition, when placing your order you can also place an order for military troops. This year, the Girl Scouts are hosting Operation "Taste of Home" and encouraging the public to place orders for additional boxes to be sent overseas to our troops. What a great idea.

I can just taste the chocolate on my Thin Mints now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Google Your Way to Museo Del Prado

Spain is a great place to visit, especially Madrid. While the tapas, sangria, paella, and night life are fantastic (restaurants don't serve dinner til 9!) the country is right up there with other European countries when it comes to art. However, anyone feeling a pinch in their pocket (Euro exchange rate=death to my savings account), is probably not making the trip across the pond anytime soon. So how is one to ever see some of the masterpiece works on display in European art museums; particularly The Museo Del Prado in Madrid? With the help of Google Earth, you can now view and study their 14 masterpieces in minute detail, without ever leaving your computer. Even better, a 3-d reproduction of the museum building creates a virtual experience of almost "real" visit to the Museum.
If you haven't heard of Google Earth, you are clearly not a seasoned googler'. Google Earth is a free program (download and install it through google onto your computer) that allows its users to see any place in the world from a real photographic aerial view. Want to check on your house while at the office? Type in your address and you'll see if it's gone down in blazes or not? Wondering if Disney has done anything seasonally special to decorate the Magic Kingdom? Google Earth your way to Orlando to see if Mickey has strung up some lights on Cinderella's castle.
Now you might be wondering, "I can see images of plenty of objects in art museums on their web-sites. What's so special about these images on Google Earth?" The images you'll see at the Museum del Prado from Google earth are 14,000 mega-pixels and offer a precision 1,400 times greater than that of a 10 mega-pixel digital camera. Over 8,200 photographs were taken over 3 months in order to create a zoom-in effect, making it possible for virtual visitors to see even the tiniest details of brushstrokes, some even a visitor behind a velvet rope may not see.

Although, nothing beats seeing the real thing in person. If air fare has got you down, go to Google Earth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do you see what i see?

Now I've been to many cities in my short lifetime just short of 25 years, but I don't think I've ever seen people white water rafting down a sidewalk approaching an evil-eyed alligator (or crocodile, depending on your preference). But I can wipe my forehead in relief that this is the work of whom many call the Pavement Picasso, and his name is Julian Beever. Julian hails from the U.K. and has become famous for his anamorphic art. He can take his 100% flat images and turn them into 3-D effects by the art of morphing. As a result, looking at these anamorphic images from the correct angle seems to defy the laws of perception.Although Julian has a technical day job creating murals for companies, he is a freelancer when it comes to chalking. I used to use the chalk on the black top at Holy Cross elementary, but my art only went as far as the outline of boxes for hop scotch.

How did this pseduo-street performer get his start? After art school Julian supported himself by making 2-dimensional drawings for passerbys for pennies to get by. With trial and error he eventually was able to move to 3-dimensional, with the help of the camera.

An interesting article on him was written on him by CBS last March. Julian is definitely one of these internet-sensation artists out there, and he agrees that the Internet serves as his gallery, "That's my medium, really. If it wasn't for the Internet, my work would be totally unknown."

I sure enjoyed the work from afar in Internet-netherland courtesty of a forwarded e-mail, some of them can be worth scrolling down for after all.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bravo! Millions say bonjour to Louvre.

I'm just digging for some good news in the museum world and I think I've just hit g0ld.

The Musée du Louvre in Paris set a new attendance record in 2008 with a stunning 8.5 million visitors. Anyone who has ever visited the Louvre can say that it doesn't take these numbers to agree that this museum is a must see for all art lovers and travelers throughout the world. With over 35, 000 works of art, each trip to the Louvre can be completely different. I've only been twice, and I don't think I've even strolled through half of the galleries. Although the Mona Lisa was as impressive as I expected, its only a starting point to the breathtaking collection that is in the Louvre.

What is even more impressive than the increase of about 200,000 visitors from 2007 is that the largest group entering the museum (40%) are 25 years and younger. This is quite surprising as many museums struggle to attract the younger set to visit. So what is the Louvre doing right? Having the Mona Lisa doesn't hurt, does it?

Bravo Louvre!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thomas Campbell Takes It to YouTube

He may not grace the Star Spotting pages of the weekly celebrity rags, but he certainly is Page-Six worthy. Thomas Campbell has officially begun his new role as Director of the MET this month. As a curator with a specialty in European tapestry working for the MET since 1995, Campbell is well-bred for Directorship. And his first act of duty, address the public. Now I'm sure everyone on the MET's mailing list received a formal letter from the Director, but there are world-wide fans of the MET wanting to know what Campbell has up his sleeve. So what better way to speak to all MET fans than to go on YouTube!

The video is short and sweet at a minute.5 long. Any no-long term plans were addressed, but Campbell pin-pointed the MET as "the greatest art museum in the world" and that he looks forward to following former director Philippe de Montebello's footsteps. The art world has a pretty gloom outlook for 2009. Chicago Field's Museum is cutting staff and GM announced less financial support for the arts in Detroit. One can appreciate Campbell's modest optimism for the MET. If MET truly is the greatest art museum in the world, then Campbell is expected to be a true leader for museums into the future.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Could Free Admission Beat Your January Blues?

It sure could for me! I don't know if it was the torrential downpour of rain last night or the bare-shelved Gap store at the Christiana Mall on Sunday, but the week after New Year's always feels like a Debbie Downer to me. Other than a boost in the form of no work on MLK day, it's a long stretch to spring. However, the Brandywine Museums and Gardens have something fantastic to offer you this Saturday, January 10th, and it won't cost you a penny. Literally.

All 8 of the Brandywine museums are offering free admission this Saturday for all ages. Between Longwood Gardens, Delaware Art Museum, Winterthur and more where is one even to start? As a veteran ultimate Disney-World park hopper (I've done all 4 in one day), I'm here to offer you an itinerary for your free museum day. I'll even tell you how much you'll save the entire day.
9:30 a.m.: Rise and Shine! Start in the southern Wilmington area along Rt 141 with some DuPont lovin' at either Hagley Museum($11) or the Nemours Mansion ($12). Depending on the weather you may or may not want to take in all of their outdoor property, which gives an excuse to host a Spring Open House (take notes Brandywine Museums!)

12:00 p.m.: Hungry for lunch? Not just yet, grab a granola bar and a coffee at a Wawa and get on 95, depending on your art tastes, stop at DCCA (free normally) or Delaware Art Museum ($12). They're both so fantastic I really couldn't reccommend one over the either.

2:00 p.m. Ok now you can have lunch. The possibilities are endless, head into Little Italy, or keep heading down Rt. 52 to Buckley's Tavern. Just don't fill up on too much of their crab dip or a food coma might prevent you from getting to your final stop.
3:00 p.m. Last but not least, go right to Winterthur ($22) or left to Longwood ($16). It is the last weekend you can see the Christmas decor at Longwood so if you aren't too sick of the holidays, this is the spot for you. The current exhibition at Winterthur, Feeding Desires, has gotten rave reviews so if spoons and knives are your thing, make that right to Winterthur.

Good luck, and if you can't make the trip from Dover to Wilmington, just come to the Biggs..... we're always free. :)

UPDATE (1/9/08): Trish from comments made me aware of two museums out of the ten Brandwine Treasure are not offering free admission on Saturday. Both Longwood and Nemours are not offering free admission. I did overlook Rockwood Museum, Brandywine River Museum, and the Delaware Museum of Natural History as options. These are three great museums to visit as well!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Non-Profit (or Doing) of the Week: Holey Mole! The Ink is Gone!

The only way to explain my relationship with our office printer is, "Can't live with him, can't live without him." If I ever were to attempt to divorce myself from this machine, it would erupt with a Heather Mills/Paul McCartney court case involving dozens of transcripts describing the damages to my level of stress. Even when I try to perform the required maintenance and change the ink drums, it still manages to spit back at me and cover my clothes with neon brite colored powder ( I looked as though Rainbow Brite had attacked me that day, neon green is not my color).

So how do I improve my relationship with this machine I need so much to exist (marketing means promotion means materials means paper means printing) that is not only expensive (paper and ink costs) but also stressful (I'm currently waiting with baited breath for my IT guy to show up). I download EcoFont of course, to save some mula on our ink costs. So what do fonts have to do with saving ink, you ask? Everything. It's not just those 4X6 color photo prints of Uncle Moe's Christmas party that are draining your cartridge. Ecofont is a brand new font designed by Spranq, a group of Dutch researchers who have done boat loads of testings trying to figure out how much of the letters we can remove for it to still be legible.

Why did Spranq spend so much time on creating a new font with holes making it look similar to Swiss cheese? Well, in addition to printers wasting papers, it's also wasting printer cartridges that are likely to end up in landfills. I'm sure you can agree that printer cartridges are not biodegradable like a banana peel. Hence to say, we're hurting the environment. EcoFont users will use 20percent less ink by removing as much of each letter as they can while still being able to read it.

So if your new resolution was to be more kind to the earth, this is a great jump-off, then go sign up for the curbside recycling.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My MOMA moment.

Having lived in Manhattan for a short period of time, and visited a plethora, the shiny'ness of the great big city has become a little tarnished. However, my first visit to MOMA on a chilly Saturday afternoon this past weekend left me with that little girl in the big city feeling, or more like "Toto, I don't think we're at the Biggs Museum anymore."

From a visitor standpoint, all you might think of is "swarms", of people that is. The second to last day of the Van Gogh: Colors of the Night exhibition combined with the tail end of many holiday vacation weeks filled the MOMA with packs of people of all types. Tourists, internationals, families, couples, hipsters couldn't get in the revolving doors fast enough, whether it was anticipation for the art or just to get out of the frigid temperatures. Granted, I could have done without the pushing, getting my feet run over by several strollers and the few hipsters who were stealing my caption reading view, as an art museum employee I reveled in the crowds. Of all the things to do in Manhattan, there are this many people here, in this museum, enjoying and experiencing this art. They want to see it, get it, feel it, make an idea of their own and they want to be a part of it (hence the bare shelves that normally hold prints in the MOMA store).

So what was the highlight of my MOMA trip? Have you ever heard of brides buying the first dress they tried on? Well, my MOMA moment was the very first thing I saw after handing over my admission ticket. It was Swiss artist's Pipilotti Rist's installation, Pour Your Body Out. MOMA clearly had some space to fill in their atrium, at the size of 7354 Cubic Meters. As I walked up the stairs to the second floor, my vision was smashed with massive projections of pink tulips on all walls and I look towards the ground to see a crowd of people surrounding a circular cushion with white carpets. In a moment of modern art pessimism (shame on me), I thought to myself, "now what in the world is this?"

But the writing on the wall from Ms. Rist invited me to kick back, stretch out, meet people, and sing or even dance. Although visitors are experiencing video, Rist mentions that Pour Your Body Out is quite different from watching YouTube saying, " “The visitors bring their bodies to the museum. That’s different from the mass media coming to your living room.” The sixteen minute video encompasses all there is in nature, sort of like speeding through a day of programs on the Discovery Channel. I must be honest, I didn't kick my shoes off and parade around, as I had four floors of galleries to get through, but I did take it all in. Ms. Rist clearly has created a convening space for the public in MOMA, what you do in it is up to you. So, my final review of MOMA? I'll admit I'm an amateur for modern art, just dying to "get it," but everything I saw was well worth working for.